Food Allergy Etiquette: Managing Food Allergies in Social Situations

Easy tips on how to have manage food allergies in social situations.

As we get ready for some fun in the sun and gather for barbecues, parties, sleepovers, and other social situations, it's important to prep your family and have a plan in place to enjoy safely with food allergies. Some social settings can be awkward anyway, but even more so for someone avoiding anaphylaxis. Avoiding reactions and anaphylaxis are number one, but how do you do it in social situations? Have no fear, here are Alerje's tips on Food Allergy Etiquette: safely enjoying common social scenarios with food allergies!

Food Allergies at a Potluck and Similar Get Togethers

Picture this: you are at work, and you receive an invite to a potluck dinner. Although it is never rude to turn down an offer to avoid a reaction, you still want to oblige safely. You're in luck! Because it's a potluck, prepare to shine. Here's an idea: Choose a dish that is delicious while sensitive to your food allergy. Be prepared to have a "story" about the recipe. At the end of sharing the story behind the recipe, everyone has your attention. Now, you can share why you chose the recipe: because of your food allergies!

  • Always avoid cross-contact, which can occur when a food allergen is accidentally transferred from one dish to another (ex. reusing a serving spoon from a dish that isn’t allergy-friendly). Use safe practices such as using a dedicated serving spoon for allergy-friendly dishes, as well as keeping safe dishes separate from those that may contain allergens. Read more on how to avoid cross-contact from Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE).

Food Allergies and Birthday Parties

There’s nothing like a good old fashioned birthday party! From having Part of food allergy management is being prepared for any potential situation. If you are anticipating attending a soiree with food that may not be allergy-safe, opt to:

  • Inform the host in advance of your food allergies and dietary restrictions.
  • Offer to bring your favorite allergy-friendly snack or dish to share (Tip: Opt for single-serve snacks to share to reduce the risk of cross-contact).
  • Have your auto-injector nearby and an anaphylaxis plan in place.

But alas, sometimes we forget to prepare. For instance, you showed up to a friend's birthday party and there's no allergy-friendly food available. No need to make a fuss! You can also always enjoy food-free activities- dancing, playing games, and spending quality time is always allergy-friendly. Have some little ones attending a birthday party? Check out Allergic Living's article on Navigating the Kids’ Birthday Party with Allergies.

Food Allergies and Sleepovers

Slumber parties can be a lot of fun for kids. For parents, it can provide some much-needed time for TLC and self-care. However, having your child attend a sleepover can seem frightening for parents of kids with food allergies. In this scenario, your child just got invited to a sleepover. You then start to panic and remember that food may be involved that may not be safe for your child's food allergies. Do not fret! You can protect your child from anaphylaxis and by:

  • Bringing a pre-prepared meal and/or snacks for your child.
  • Talking with the other child’s parent beforehand about their allergies. Our friends at FAACT have a great resource for parents pre-planning your child’s playdates and get togethers.
  • Explaining to your child what foods to avoid.
  • Acting it out beforehand: One activity to prep your "fam" is to act out or role-play scenarios where food may be present and how to handle them safely, from reading labels and asking about ingredients to avoiding situations in which cross-contact can occur. Make it fun by choosing "characters," and you can even put on costumes for a little razzle-dazzle!

Managing Food Allergies as a Whole

A plan of action and Food Allergy Etiquette can help give you peace of mind as a food allergy caregiver or someone with food allergies. There are many resources available for you and your family, and whichever option you choose in your social scenario, ultimately, safety comes first. Pre-plan as best as possible, and always have your epinephrine auto-injectors on hand in case of severe reactions. In addition to these tips, have your allergies listed and document what you eat. Have your tools and support system handy, such as Alerje's new Facebook community, Alerje True Grit Stories, and other solutions coming soon to help you Make Every Moment Count and tackle any social situation safely.

Stay calm, you've got this. Making Every Moment Count and avoiding reactions- it's possible! All you need is Food Allergy Etiquette.

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